MICHAEL ON AUSTRALIAN STORY
WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN THE EPISODE WENT TO AIR?
Penni and I thought about going to the pub with a few friends and watching it there but it was such a personal experience. Even though we knew people all over the country were watching it, we still felt it was a private thing. We stayed home and watched it together, cringed a little because it's always hard to watch yourself on TV and had a cry at the end.
WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN LIKE?
Friends and family called right away to tell us how much they loved it and we got hundreds and hundreds of emails via our website. Most people felt it was a really positive story which was what we wanted. To go through all that and have people still come away feeling uplifted is quite an achievement. The day following was our biggest ever traffic day on the website so we were really pleased.
WAS IT INTRUSIVE HAVING THE CAMERA CREW FOLLOW YOU AROUND?
They didn't exactly follow us around. Our lives aren't terribly exciting on a day-to-day basis. They turned up for events - birthdays, Christmas celebrations, races, treatments, going into hospital for my operation, those sorts of things. By the time we were sick of them, they were gone. We got to know them fairly well over the six months so it was a bit like catching up with friends.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DO THE STORY?
For a while after my diagnosis, we couldn't think of anything other than fighting cancer. When Australian Story approached us, I don't think we even talked about it. It was just not important. A few weeks later we started to think about how we could use it to our advantage. We'd cancelled a lot of work and it seemed a great way to relaunch my speaking career when I was better. It also meant we could tell our story to all those people we didn't even know who sent us messages of support. We had some fairly strict rules, one of which was that the story couldn't go to air until I'd had enough time to at least start my recovery. In committing to the story, we were virtually committing ourselves to a happy ending, we wanted it to end positively, to give people hope. That was really important to Penni and me.
You can still see the Australian Story episode online at